Belarus deputy PM sees H1 GDP up about 6 pct

MINSK, May 26 (Reuters) - The Belarussian economy will grow 6 percent in the first half of the year, despite registering only 1.2 percent growth in the first four months, Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

In recent months the economy has been hit by a drop in exports of over 40 percent compared with a year ago, as Europe and Russia -- its chief trading partners -- suffer from the global financial crisis.

The economy in the ex-Soviet state of 10 million has grown about 10 percent annually every year since 2000. Much of it has remained in state hands.

'Concrete measures set down in the programme (to combat the crisis) will allow us to achieve GDP growth of no less than 6 percent in the first half of the year,' Kobyakov told a government meeting, according to BelTA news agency.

Belarus has launched a broad search for funds to serve as a cushion during the crisis. It has agreed on a $2.4 billion loan with the IMF, a $2 billion loan from Russia and $3 billion yuan currency swap with China.

It also hopes to receive a $1 billion loan from the World Bank and said it is looking to make a euro currency swap with an EU trade partner.

The economy ministry has said 5 percent economic growth in 2009 was an optimistic scenario. The official GDP forecast for 2009 -- formulated last year -- is 10-11 percent.

Russia's economy is expected to shrink by up to 8 percent this year and neighbouring Ukraine's by 11 percent.



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